Stroud council finds illegal home in 'tool shed'

The "tool shed" at Fourboys Garden Centre Image copyright Stroud District Council
Image caption Scaffolding and planks were used as an exit from the first floor flat

An illegal home has been found in a garden centre "tool shed" by council planning enforcers in Gloucestershire.

The unauthorised flat, with a bedroom, lounge and tiled shower room, was discovered in a two-storey building.

Stroud District Council said it had been registered as a single-storey structure for business use only.

Officers said the building, "known as the tool shed" at Fourboys Garden Centre in Dursley, was being lived in by the land owner's son and partner.

'Hidden bathroom'

The garden centre could not be reached for comment.

Phillip Skill, head of planning for Stroud District Council, said: "In April, officers had requested access to the first floor, but the owner had delayed access several days.

"When an officer was finally allowed in, the first floor was sparsely furnished but did contain a fully fitted kitchen and appliances.

"Additionally, part of one of the rooms had been boarded off and officers suspected that it hid a bathroom.

"After this visit officers made several further attempts to gain access but were denied on each occasion."

'Woefully inadequate'

A search warrant was given by Stroud Magistrates Court and the council, assisted by police officers, executed the warrant on Thursday.

The authority said the building posed a "significant risk" due to its lack of fire protection between the flat and the ground floor store, which contained petrol-driven equipment.

It also highlighted a "woefully inadequate means of escape" from the flat, involving scaffolding and planks from first floor French doors.

Stroud District Council is now considering the demolition of the building and is preparing legal papers to end its use as a residential flat.

The owner will have a right of appeal against any notices the council issues.

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